the solar system tour. in our solar system there are eight planets, 1 star, 10 dwarf planets,...

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  • The Solar System Tour

  • In our solar system there are eight planets, 1 star, 10 dwarf planets, comets, asteroids, meteors, moons and other space debris floating. But did you know that our solar system has only one star the sun, and that the planets go around, or orbit, the sun, and moons orbit the planets? And that our solar system is just one of many systems in our galaxy The Milky Way? But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Space is vast and would take way too long to explain it all, so let just start with our Solar System.

  • First, did you know that the names of our planets come from ancient Roman Gods and Goddesses? The names we use today for the innermost planets were assigned by the Romans and they named them after their Gods. These included Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The other three planets are not visible to the naked eye, so the Romans didn't know they existed. When modern astronomers did discover them, they stuck with this convention and named these planets after Roman gods as well (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto). But originally the planets that could be seen were named after Greek Gods and Goddesses. So lets take a trip through our Solar System.


  • The Sun Sol (Roman); Helios (Greek)

  • Our sun is named for the Mighty One and has the largest mass in our solar system. The sun is made of boiling hot gases that reaches very hot surface temperatures. The dark spots that appear are called sun spots and have a slightly less surface temperature in these areas. The sun is very dense and is made up of hydrogen, helium and a tiny bit of metal.

  • Mercury Mercury (Roman); Hermes (Greek)

  • Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and also has some of hottest temperatures of all the planets. It is named after the winged- heel God Hermes the messenger god - because of its fast orbit. It has more craters than our moon and has only been visited by two spacecrafts - Mariner 10 and Messenger.

  • Venus Venus (Roman); Aphrodite (Greek)

  • Venus is named after the goddess of love and beauty probably because it is the brightest of the planets known to the ancients and the second brightest object in the night sky - only our moon is brighter. Venus has very dense clouds that surround it and it is thought that below the clouds Venus might be earthlike, but the atmosphere is composed mostly of carbon dioxide and therefore would not support life as we know it. Also, because of the dense atmosphere the greenhouse effect, Venus has the hottest temperatures of all the planets.

  • Earth Tellus (Roman); Gaia (Greek)

  • Earth is the only planet whose name is not derived from mythology. Earth actually comes from the Old English and Germanic. But in the Roman and Greek Mythology the Tellus or Gaia was the goddess of the fertile soil. Our planet is the only one that can sustain life as we know it and is actually divided into several layers with its own distinct chemical and seismic properties.

  • We have one moon that orbits around us that is known as Selena in Greek Mythology and Luna in Roman Mythology.

  • Mars Mars (Roman); Ares (Greek)

  • Mars is named after the god of war probably because of its color Red. The name of the month of March is derived from Mars. Mars has been visited by several spacecrafts over the years and on July 4, 1997 the Mars Pathfinder the first of several rovers - landed successfully on Mars and sent back many incredible pictures of the surface and geologic data.

  • Jupiter Jupiter (Roman); Zeus (Greek)

  • Jupiter is named after the King of the Gods and ruler of Olympus, Zeus. Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the sky, behind the Sun, the Moon, and Venus and is also known as the wandering star. Galileo was the first to discover Jupiters four large moons. Jupiter is known as a gas planet with no solid surface. It is made up of mainly hydrogen and helium.

  • Saturn Saturn (Roman); Cronus (Greek)

  • The second largest planet in the Solar System, and is named after the god of agriculture and is known as the son of Uranus and Gaia, and the father of Jupiter. It is also the root of the English word Saturday. Galileo was the first to observe Saturn with a telescope but it has been known since prehistoric times. But it was not until later, that the discovery of the its rings were made.

  • Uranus Uranus (Roman); Ouranos/ Uranus (Greek)

  • Uranus is named after the Greek deity of the Heavens, the earliest supreme god. It was also the first planet discovered in modern times. Because of its distance from earth, only the Voyager 2 has visited the planet. Uranus has faint rings that surround the planet, is known as the blue planet and is a gas planet. It also has 21 named moons and 6 unnamed moons that orbit it.

  • Neptune Neptune (Roman); Poseidon (Greek)

  • Neptune is named after the god of the sea. Neptune is also a blue planet and a gas planet. Like Jupiters Great Red Spot, Neptune has a Great Dark Spot. Neptune has rings but their composition is unknown. It has only been visited by Voyager 2. Neptune has 13 known moons, 8 which have been named.

  • Pluto Pluto (Roman); Hades/ Pluto/ Aidoneus (Greek)

  • Although downgraded from its throne as a planet, Pluto is still a very important part of our Solar System and a very important part of the Mythology of the planets. Named after Hades, the god of the Underworld, it is so far from the sun that it is in perpetual darkness. It is now known as a dwarf planet.

  • Other objects in space

  • There are many things that float in our galaxy like comets, asteroids, and meteorites, but the planets and their moons are the largest objects that we know of. With advances in astronomy and satellite technology, who knows what we may discover in the years to come.

  • For more informationFor more information on The Solar System, please visit the following websites:

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